Reliability-Centered Maintenance – or RCM for short – has numerous important applications in many segments of the industry, and it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with the basic principles behind it if you are in a position where you’re responsible for the management of the maintenance of your organization. The military is a regular user of RCM as a whole, and there are various reasons why, most of them tied to the basic structure of military organizations in the first place.
The Importance of Reliability in the Military
It makes sense that military organizations would see a strong benefit in the use of RCM, as reliability is one of the most critical factors in their work in most cases. There are few things worse than combat equipment failing on the frontlines, which is why so much attention is paid to preventative maintenance in these contexts in general.
However, an improper approach to maintenance is also one of the main reasons why military organizations tend to be so wasteful in the use of their resources, particularly funding. It’s not rare to hear about a country’s military requesting an even larger budget for the next year, and it looks like this is an ongoing trend that doesn’t have any reversal in sight.
When RCM is applied properly, it can help ensure that equipment stays useful for as long as possible without having to waste huge amounts of money on maintaining it, and this can reflect very positively on the budget of an organization like that.
Training from Top to Bottom
Military organizations are typically a good environment for the deployment of RCM, one of the main reasons being their strictly organized nature and the cross-training that’s popular across all levels of a typical army. It’s often very easy to ensure that critical skills are passed down from leaders to low-ranking soldiers – or the other way around – and this can minimize the costs of the organization related to installing a proper RCM system across the board.
Of course, it’s important to ensure that this type of training starts properly in the first place – that is, check that the people who will be spreading the knowledge to other ranks are given adequate preparation themselves. You’ll often need to bring in external experts in order to ensure that things go smoothly, and this might extend the budget of the organization beyond its original values temporarily, but that should be worthwhile in the long run.
An Alternative Approach to Handling Equipment
It’s no secret that armies tend to be wasteful with handling their resources and assets, as we pointed out above. This applies to anything from funds to actual equipment, and it’s not rare to see machines in a nearly perfect condition being discarded due to a small maintenance error. It’s actually often more cost-effective to bring in new equipment rather than replace the original one, and this is a big problem in the long run that can have serious consequences. Putting aside cost-related issues, it can promote a situation where old equipment is not being upgraded properly because not enough attention is paid to potential improvements, and this can quickly drag down the performance of soldiers on the battlefield.
The best approach to handling the assets of an army of any scale is to ensure that there’s a constant push forward towards improving the state of all equipment and other assets. You can do this preserving them in good condition, and by also exploring opportunities for their improvement in the long run.
RCM can have some very viable applications in military organizations, but it has to be used correctly and with a lot of advance planning. Special attention should be paid to the way equipment is handled in the long run, and a responsible leader should always be on the lookout for opportunities to upgrade an asset rather than replace it with a newer version.